Whether you call them snap beans, green beans or string beans, our garden has produced a steady stream since early July. Joe plants both bush and pole beans and not just green beans. We grow purple beans that look pretty on the vine but as soon as you plunk them in a pot of boiling water, they turn a dark green color. This is due to a plant pigment, anthocyanin, that deteriorates in high temperatures. If you want to preserve the bean’s purple color, choose a crisp young bean that doesn’t require cooking.
Yellow or wax beans also add color to the garden. According to Cook’s Illustrated, yellow beans are just green beans bred to have none of the chlorophyll pigment that gives the green bean its color.
Snap beans are low in calories, a good source of fiber and vitamins A and C. Their grassy, nutty flavor is appealing to just about everyone. In the cooler months we are most likely to do a warm preparation of beans with garlic and thyme. In the summer I like to blanch them and make a green bean salad. This combination is a creation of my own and a dish I have made countless times this summer.
I start with approximately a pound of beans. I wash and stem the beans and sort out any that are significantly fatter and or older. Bring a large pot of water that has been well salted to the boil and add the large beans first. I give them an extra minute or two to cook. Then I add the rest of the beans and start my timer at a generous four minutes. I taste (careful, it will be hot) one bean, and if I can bite through with no resistance, they are done. If not, set the timer for another minute, then taste again. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse with cool water. Spread the beans out on dish towels to let the excess moisture evaporate.
In a large bowl combine the beans, chopped parsley and tomatoes. A bite-sized cherry tomato works best here, cutting them in half makes them easier to eat. I have used different varieties over the summer. On this particular day I used a white cherry tomato. They aren’t really white but a very pale yellow. Toss the ingredients with the vinegar and oil. Next add the feta and tamari almonds. My preference is French feta, it is milder (less salty) in flavor and creamier in texture. Tamari almonds bring a umami flavor and a pleasant crunch. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, leftovers taste great the next day.
Green Bean Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Feta and Parsley
- 1 lb green beans, washed, stemmed and trimmed into 2-3 inch pieces, can be wax or purple beans also
- 15-20 small tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 c finely chopped parsley
- 1/3 c crumbled feta (I prefer French feta in this salad)
- 1/3 c tamari almonds
- 3 T grapefruit or another light balsamic vinegar
- 6 T olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the beans, bring back to the boil and turn back the heat to a simmer and cook beans for 4 ½ minutes. Test one bean to be sure they are tender. Drain in a colander and rinse with cool water.
- In a bowl large enough to toss the ingredients comfortably, add the beans, tomatoes and chopped parsley. Toss with the oil and vinegar. Add feta and tamari almonds and toss again. Season well with salt and pepper and serve immediately.